Reddit Clamps Down on Harassment of Its Users

In the 10 years since Reddit launched, the Internet has become a dramatically different place, which is why the self-described "front page of the Internet" is changing its policies to expressly prohibit attacks and harassment of people using its site. The new policy is particularly noteworthy as it comes into being under the leadership of interim CEO Ellen Pao (pictured), who recently lost a $16 million gender discrimination case against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Among the other changes Pao has instituted during her time at Reddit is the elimination of salary negotiations to reduce potential gender-related pay inequities. "Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate," she told the Wall Street Journal last month. "(W)e aren't going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation."

The latest change prohibiting attacks and harassment through Reddit "will have no immediately noticeable impact on more than 99.99 percent of our users," company administrators said Thursday in a team blog post. "It is specifically designed to prevent attacks against people, not ideas."

Abuse on Social Media a Major Problem

The prevalence of online harassment and abuse has received increased scrutiny recently in part because of several high-profile incidents. For example, after actor-comedian Robin Williams committed suicide last year, his daughter, Zelda, received a large number of abusive comments through Twitter, leading her to shut down her account at the site.

Additionally, feminist writer and media critic Anita Sarkeesian has been repeatedly threatened and abused online in connection with the "Gamergate" controversy over misogyny in video games.

According to an October 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of Internet users have experienced harassment online. Social media sites have proven to be hotspots for such abuse, particularly for women. Twitter...

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